Second: Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (the Undefined Benefits).
The Literal Meaning of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (the Undefined Benefits):
The Arabic word Maslahah singular form of Masalih refers to everything that results in some benefit, whether the benefit is achieved by seeking something useful or by removing something harmful. The word Maslahah includes both kinds of benefits. (1)
And the word Al-Mursalah (2) denotes undefined or unconditional, as was stated in the description of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) with generosity: "(He was faster in generosity than (Ar-Rih Al-Mursalah) the blowing wind). (3) The word Al-Mursalah in this Hadith means the open air without any barrier in front it.
Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (the Undefined Benefits) in Terminology:
Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (the undefined benefits) refer to everything that is absolute and Islamic texts remained silent about their rulings in a direct way, it denotes every issue that was not declared neither as wrong nor as right in Islamic Shari`ah, whether they are behaviors or actions." (4)
In addition to that, it was said that Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (the undefined benefits) refer to everything that may bring certain benefit according to the opinion of Muslim jurist, and there was no text in Islamic Shari`ah that prohibits that benefit. (5)
Any act that is regarded by a Muslim jurist as beneficial or removing any harm, such acts have been indicated by Islamic Shari`ah or were denoted by either specific evidence or general proofs in the light of common purposes of Islamic Shari`ah. Such benefits have only one condition for their permissibility; that they should not be denied by Shari`ah, otherwise, the expected benefit would be lesser than the harm resulted by the act, so the benefit would be avoidable and useless.
Therefore, the definition of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (the undefined benefits) that says:" It denotes every issue that was declared neither as wrong nor as right in Islamic Shari`ah, whether they are behaviors or actions." is objectionable. (6)
Anyway, there is no such benefit that was not denoted by Shari`ah, as it must be indicated by Shari`ah in any form of denotations. In short, we can say that there was not found a specific proof for this benefit in particular form, but its ruling would be extracted from the general rules of Islamic Shari`ah.
Shaykh Al-Islam says in this context: "The well established opinion about this issue is that Islamic Shai`ah never neglected any benefit at all, rather, Allah (Glory be to Him) has completed for us our religion, nothing that can lead to the paradise was left unexplained by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him), every thing was elucidated by him in a comprehensive manner, until he left us upon a bright path, its night is like its day, no one deviates from it after him except that he is destroyed. Every thing that has been regarded by human mind as a good and beneficial but was not mentioned in Islam basic sources in a direct way, such matter is one of two: either, the issue was indicated in Islamic Shari`ah in a way that was far from the reasoning of a jurist, or the claimed benefit is not a real benefit; because the benefit refer to the pure beneficial thing that has no harm at all, (7) or at least, the benefit must be its quality and nature in general. Often, some people regard something as useful in this world and the hereafter, but they discover after sometime that the benefit was coupled with some harm. As Allah (Glory be to Him) says about the wine and gambling: "They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people, but their sin is greater than their benefit." (8) (9).
Authority of (Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah) the Undefined Benefits:
Moreover, Muslim scholars have disputed on the value of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah or (the Undefined Benefits), the most famous of them was Imam Malik (10) (may Allah have mercy on him) who regarded it as an authority.
Some scholars mentioned that referring to Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah or (the Undefined Benefits), specially, in the issues that have not been mentioned in the text of the Glorious Qur'an and blessed Sunnah is a common thing between many Islamic schools of thought. Al-Qurafi says in this context: "In fact, referring to Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (or the Undefined Benefits) is a common matter in all Islamic schools of thought, because they reason and differentiate according to the events and contexts, they conclude in the light of general rulings and do not ask proof for every particular issue, and that is meant by referring to Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (or the Undefined Benefits)." (11)
Morover, Ibn Daqeeq Al-`Eid (12) says in this regard: "Undoubtedly, Ibn Malik emphasized the need of this issue more than other scholars of jurisprudence, followed by Ahmad ibn Hanbal (13) and almost all other Islamic schools of thought considered it in general, but these two jurists were more interested in this subject than others. (14)
Some Proofs for the Significance of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (or the Undefined Benefits):
1- Whoever did a careful examination on Islam Shari`ah and studied the details of the provisions of the Glorious Qur'an and blessed Sunnah knows surely that Islamic Shari`ah came to safeguard the interests of the people in this world and Hereafter. Allah (Glory be to Him) says about the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him): "And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds."(15). And He (Glory be to Him) says about His book: "Indeed, this Qur'an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward." (16)
This is the basic principle in Islamic Shari`ah, and He (Glory be to Him) said about the details of the provisions of Shari`ah: "Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation. And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak." (17)
In addition, the Glorious Qur'an and the blessed Sunnah are full of examples that represent ascribe the provisions to the benefits and interests of the people. (18) If there is an issue that has not been mentioned in any text of the basic sources or consensus and there was no place for juristic reasoning, in such cases, the issue would be examined; if there was any kind of benefit for the mankind it would be regarded as a desired one that coincides with the general purposes of Islamic Shari`ah.
2 –The practice of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). It is a proved fact that the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) carried out a lot of things without having particular proof for their every work. They did that merely taking into their accounts the anticipated benefits. Thus, it is a proof for the importance of referring to Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (or the Undefined Benefits).
A) - The Glorious Qur'an was collected in one book in the era of Abu Bakr (19) (may Allah be pleased with him). It was done when `Umar (20) (may Allah be pleased with him) suggested for the collection of the Glorious Qur'an in one combined book. In fact, this valuable work was done by a special guidance from Allah (Glory be to Him), although there was no direct text that orders for the collection of the Glorious Qur'an in one united book. Even some of the opinions of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) expressed their hesitation by saying: "How can we do something that was not done by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him)?" but, `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) explained the issue in the light of juristic reasoning and said: "By Allah! O Abu Bakr! It is a good work."(21)
B)- The divinely guided Caliphs of Islam imposed compensation on the manufacturers, makers and producers if they lose anything of the customers, because, they often, neglect the preservation of the deposits of the people who are in dire need to their services, because, Imposing compensation on the artisans saves the interests of the people and preserves their rights. His Holiness, `Ali (22), (may Allah be pleased with him) said in this issue: "Nothing can make the people right, but this." (23) He means imposing compensation.
C) – The verdict of collective punishment, when a group participates in killing a single person, they all would be killed in punishment of the murder case, as was done by `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). There is no reason for this decision except referring to the principle of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah (or the Undefined Benefits). This principle was applied here so that people can not use the crime of murder by a group as an excuse for their killing if there was no capital punishment for the collective killing. (24)
3- Conditions change and people also change according to times, places and circumstances, as people are in need to the solutions of their problems, because, the events and affairs are endless. Therefore, refusal of referring to the principle of Al-Masalih Al-Mursalah causes loses for the people and spoils their interests. And this type of harms is incompatible with the general purposes of Islamic Shari`ah.
(1) Ibn Manzur, Lsan Al-`Arab (2/348), and Al-Ferozabadi, Al-Qamus Al-Muhit (1/235).
(2) Ibn Manzur, Lsan Al-`Arab (11/285), Arabic Language Academy, Al-Mu`ajam Al-Wasit (1/344).
(3) Agreed upon between Al-Bukhari and Muslim. See: Ibn Al-Hajar, Fat'h Al-Bari (4/116), and An-Nawawi, a commentary on Sahih Muslim, (5/165 -166).
(4) See: Ash-Shatibi, Al-I`atisam (2/114-115), Dar Al-M`arifah, Beirut.
(5) Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu`a Al-Fataawa (11/342 -343).
(6) Al-`A'midi, Al-Ihkam Fi Usool Al-Ahkam (4/160).
(7) The published copy of the book includes the word "Al-Hasilah" but the correct word is "Al-Khalisah".
(8) Surah Al-Baqarah: 219.
(9) Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu`a Al-Fataawa (11/344-345).
(10) He is Malik ibn Anas ibn Malik ibn Abi `Amir Al-Asbahi, Abu `Abdullah Al-Madani, the authority of Dar Al-Hijrah, (the blessed Al-Madinah), and one of the founders of the four schools of Islamic jurisprudence, who died in 179 A.H., his birth was in 93 A.H.. See: Siyar A`alam An-Nubala' (8/48) and Taqrib At-Tahdhib, p. 516, see also Ash-Shatibi, Al-I`atisam (2/111), Al-`A'midi, Al-Ihkam Fi Usool Al-Ahkam, (4/160) and Ash-Shawkani, Irshad Al-Fuhool, p. 242.
(11) Al-Qurafi, Sharh Tanqih Al-Fusool, p. 171 and Dr. Mustafa Al-Banna', Athar Al-Adillah Al-Mukhtalaf Fiha, p. 44, Dar Al-Imam Al-Bukhari for printing and publishing, Damascus.
(12) He is Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn Wahab Al-Manfalouti, one of the great scholars in jurisprudential principles, who held the post of Grand Mufti of Egypt. He was born in 625 and died in 702 A.H.. See: Ad-Durar Al-Kaminah, 4/91.
(13) Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hanbal Ash-Shaybani Al- Muruzi, who resided in Baghdad and was an encyclopedia of Hadith, a jurist and one of the founders of four schools of jurisprudence. He died in 241 A.H. when he was in 77 years of his age. See: Siyar A`alam An-Nubala' (11/17) and Taqrib At-Tahdhib, p. 84.
(14) Ash-Shawkani, Irshad Al-Fuhool, 242.
(15) Al-Anbiya': 107.
(16) Al-Isra': 9.
(17) See: Ibn Al-Qayyim, Miftah Dar As-Sa`adah, (2/22), Dar Al-Kutub Al-`Ilmiyyah, Beirut, and Ash-Shatibi, Al-Muwafqat (2/6).
(18) Ash-Shawkani, Irshad Al-Fuhool, p. 242.
(19) He is `Abdullah ibn `Uthman ibn `Amir Al-Qurashi At-Taymi, Abu Bakr, the first successor the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). His virtues and qualities were well-known, who died in 13 A.H. in sixty-three years of his age. See: Usd Al-Ghabah (3/205) and Al-Isabah (2/333).
(20) `Umar ibn Al-Khattab ibn Nufail, Al-Qurashi, Al-`Adawi, Abu Hafs, the ruler of the faithful, and the second caliph among the divinely guided caliphs of Muslims. He had a lot of good qualities and virtues, who died as a martyr in 23 A.H. when he was sixty-three years old. See: Usd Al-Ghabah, (3/642) and Al-Isabah (2/512).
(21) Ash-Shatibi, Al-I`atisam, (2/115).
(22) `Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn `Abdul Muttalib Al-Qurashi Al-Hashimi, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him), and the husband of his daughter Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her), he was the fourth divinely guided caliphs of Muslims. See: Usd Al-Ghabah (3/588) and Al-Isabah (2/501).
(23) Ash-Shatibi, Al-I`atisam (2/119).
(24) Ash-Shatibi, Al-I`atisam (2/125).